Mabuhay from the Philippines!

I know… updates to this blog had been almost non-existent for the past week or so. There’s a very good reason for that. We’ve just kicked off the second leg of our tour and spent the most activity packed week and a half in the Philippines.
One of the things we did not bitch enough about our trip to China was how cold we always felt. Somewhere along the way, we decided to head to warmer climates, preferably with beaches and activities that don’t require us to wrap ourselves in ten layers of clothing.
And since Fortress USA threw a giant monkey wrench in our plans by not granting us our visas to Hawaii and the US, we decided to spend all the time initially planned for Hawaii in the Philippines instead.
After a bit of research, we came up with a travel plan that would see us speeding overland from Cebu to Manila in 3 weeks (no flights).
Our plan is as follows:
Day 1 – Cebu (Straight to Bohol?)
Day 2 – Bohol (Hinagdanan cave?) (buy tickets to Siquijor)
Day 3 – Bohol Whale and Dolphin
Day 4- Morning Ferry to Siquijor via Dumaguete
Day 5  – Siquijor Dive
Day 6 – Siquijor Dive
Day 7 – Morning ferry to Dugamuete (buy tickets to Bacolod)
Day 8 – Morning bus to Bacolod then ferry to Iloilo
Day 9 – Arrival Iloilo (Day R an R in Iloilo)
Day 10 – Morning Bus to Caticlan, Ferry over to Boracay (Buy ferry ticket to Batangas)
Day 11 – Boracay
Dau 12 – Boracay
Day 13 – Depart Boracay towards Caticlan for Batangas port (2gotravel). php799
Day 14 – from Batangs port take a bus via Lucena to Legaspi
Day 15 – Legaspi R and R
Day 16 – Legaspi to Donsol (Snorkelling)
Day 17 – Donsol (Swim with Whale Shark?)
Day 18 – Donsol (Rest and Relax)
Day 19 – Donsol night bus back to Manila from php700
Day 20 – Manila (Buffer Day/ R and R)
Day 21 – Manila (Buffer day/ R and R) Fly to Taiwan
I know. What detailed planning right?
This plan lasted us all the way to the airport where we were almost denied entry to Philippines because we hadn’t bought our ticket out of the country yet. Right off the bat, the 21 day plan had to be changed to an 18 day one (cheapest air ticket to Taiwan was in 18 days).
Other than that, the trip so far had been GLORIOUS. We managed to adapt and made some changes to parts of our plan. So we spent the last ten days or so lazing on some of the most pristine beaches, hanging out in bohemian-chic university towns, diving with exotic sea creatures and swimming with the gigantic whale sharks!
I don’t think Hawaii could’ve been better than this. (TAKE THAT USA!)
(Understatement alert!) I’m currently a bit behind on my China blog entries, so I’ll finish whatever I have on China before starting the Philippines chapter. I figured I have another five to ten posts left for China.
In the meantime, here are some teaser images we’ve taken so far in the Philippines.

We celebrated our tenth anniversary together on the impossibly chill Alona Beach in Bohol

Whale Sharks! They are BIG!

Sunset in Boracay

Kungfu Monkeys!

Nope, that’s not the new animated film from Dreamworks.

I’m referring to the (allegedly) famous Tibetan Macaques of Mt Emei.

Mt Emei is one of the few places where humans can come up close and personal with these little critters. On the snowy slopes of Mt Emei, you can observe the macaques engage in natural macaque activities such as eating cheetos from a bag and drinking bottled water. Behaviours they’ve grown into since every passing tourist is inadvertently lulled into feeding the macaques with whatever they have in their backpacks just because they “look so cute holding the plastic bottle between their little paws”.

Yes.. they are cute...

At this point in time, the macaques are probably more comfortable eating a pack of Pringles than they are plucking fruits from a tree. In fact they are so accustomed to eating human food that they will resort to any means necessary to get them.

On the “cute” end of this spectrum, they will sneak up a la Solid Snake and pickpocket anything you might have in your pocket. We’ve heard of a traveller who had to exchange her pack of potato chips for a camera that had been pilfered from her backpack.

On the darker side of things, the macaques have been known to show aggression,  forcibly “robbing” travellers of their plastic bags (apparently the macaques have learnt to associate plastic bags with food). They will claw away at said plastic bags with their shit/mud covered hands until they get the loot. Macaque-attack related injuries are so common here that you’d be able to find first aid stations scattered 100m apart near the macaque territories.

Now, every wuxia fan worth his salt will know that Emei is one of the legendary sects in the ancient pugilist world.

We were at Emei Shan... we couldn't resist.

and again. Wanna know why you couldn't see us clearly? We were moving too fast! Also, it was kinda dark for our exposure

According to legend, the first Emei fight style was derived from watching the movements of these macaques. Looking at the way they move, it’s not hard to see why.

These macaques are the stars of Emei and they know it! They walk around like they own the place. They take whatever they want to eat, shit wherever they like and at any point in time, look like they would whip out their… handphones to call their agents.

Like a boss...

And they do have agents.

Feisty, loud women armed with bamboo sticks and sling shots.

They alternate between feeding the macaques and hitting them when they get too close to  tourists. At the same time, they will claim every monkey that approaches the travellers is a “Monkey King” and the only way to prevent mortal injury from these fearsome monsters is to buy them a pack of special monkey feed priced at 5RMB. And hey, it just so happens that these women are carrying a few packs on them, which they could sell you at the risk of their own life and limbs. As a special incentive, they’ll even provide bamboo protection for you while you take photos of the cute little macaques as they throw their packs of monkey feed into the ravines.

Like a Boss indeed.

Also, I have to say “Kungfu Monkeys” would make an awesome tumblr name.